Sally | Edited by Johanna
Updated 14 Mar 2017
Virgin's one of the big boys when it comes to TV and broadband, especially for high speed internet. And while it raised prices for the second time in a year last November, you don't just have to accept the hike.
Whether you've been hit by a price increase or just want a better deal, this guide takes you through how to haggle to cut costs.
In this guide...
'I haggled £270/yr off my Virgin bill'
Our most recent poll, in November 2016, found 79% of Virgin customers who tried to haggle were successful in negotiating a better deal, showing what's possible. To see who else this works well on, see our full list of the top service companies to haggle with.
Here are some MoneySavers who've managed to slash their Virgin bills by haggling:
Called Virgin to ask them to match BT/Plusnet broadband packages. Within five minutes they reduced our bill by £14/mth #result - Travis, via Twitter
I was paying £102.25/mth for everything with Virgin. I called Sky and they offered a £22/mth saving over an 18mth contract, so I called Virgin back. I am now paying £80.75/mth for 18mths. I also had a whinge about Wi-Fi coverage throughout my house, so they offered me a £24 one-off credit on my account to put towards a Wi-Fi extender. So managed to save £411 in one day – result! Thank you Money Saving Expert - Les, by email
I phoned Virgin and suggested that I was thinking of leaving. I immediately had my bill reduced by £21/mth making an annual saving of £252. - David, by email
I was tempted by the Sky code offer you had recently, so I contacted Virgin to see if they could reduce my monthly payments to match. As a result, I now have faster broadband, Tivo+ and the same TV and phone packages for £212/year less. Very happy with that - it's all down to Martin's polite but firm haggling techniques! - Lorna, by email
Don't settle for high prices – make Virgin fight to keep you, or switch
Many stick with a provider for years, fearful of losing services or not wanting the hassle. But if you're out of contract and any promotional deal you had has now ended, it's likely you're now paying top prices for your services.
In February, around 4.4 million Virgin Media home phone, broadband and TV customers were hit by price hikes pushing annual bills up by 5.4% on average (see the Virgin Media hikes prices news story). Its 500,000 broadband-only customers also saw prices hiked by up to 6% last November.
Yet if you're willing to take the haggle challenge, you could beat the hikes. With a little charm, you could shave £100s off your bills in just a phone call all via the power of haggling.
Here's the key thing to understand:
Companies make their best deals only available for newbies, and they LOVE loyal customers, because they stay with the firm through thick 'n' thin, always paying full price and never checking if their deal can be beaten.
This lets big firms rake in regular, guaranteed, easy profit. So ask yourself a question: do you want to be a customer whose business is fought for, or one who's taken for granted? If you don't want to be taken for granted, take the haggle challenge.
In a nutshell, call up and ask for a better deal. Say you're paying too much or rivals' deals are cheaper. If that doesn't work, tell them you're leaving. You'll usually get put through to companies' super-powerful hidden deals departments.
Check new deals too - remember, switching may be best
Haggling can be mega powerful, but think of it as just one part of your battle to get the best deal. Sometimes 'new customer' offers from alternative providers are simply unbeatable. So by all means haggle, but always check the price you secure against the top deals from switching – see Digital TV and Cheap Broadband for our top picks.
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14 top Virgin haggling tips
Haggling may sound straightforward, but perfecting it is an art. Here are our top tips for haggling with Sky - for more, see our full guide on Haggling with Service Providers.
Do a channel audit
If you have TV, work out what you really watch on Virgin and ditch the rest. There's no point in paying for access to channels you don't watch. Virgin has a selection of packages to choose from and you could always opt for a more basic one to cut costs.
Timing is crucial
Haggling works best when you're near or beyond the end of your contract. There's no harm in giving it a try earlier though – if you struggle, note in your diary when you'll be nearing the end of your contract and call back then (you can give Virgin notice of leaving 30 days beforehand).
Furthermore, if a provider hikes broadband or line rental prices (sadly the rule doesn't apply to TV on its own) mid-contract you can leave penalty-free even if you're still in the minimum term. If so, you'll have 30 days from receiving your notification letter to let it know you want to leave. Alternatively, use this as leverage to haggle yourself a better deal if you want to stay with it.
Benchmark the best deal
It's important to have the factual arsenal at your fingertips before you pick up the phone, so do your homework.
Research the deals and discounts Virgin and its competitors offer to act as a basis for negotiation. Our Digital TV Deals and Cheap Broadband guides have the best buys, and you can sign up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.
If it's the TV you want, tell 'em you're happy with Freeview
Freeview costs nothing for many people, comes with loads of channels, and if you mention it, it shows Virgin you know what you're talking about.
It's a useful opening gambit to start your haggle with as mentioning it tells Virgin your opening offer for that element of your package is £0. You can then take it from there, and hopefully you'll have a little more wiggle room to get a top deal.
Get through to the retentions department
If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, then you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. It's simple to use - just tell 'em you're going to leave.
The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the Holy Grail of haggling. (Note - this department might be called 'disconnections' externally, but make no mistake, customer retention's its job.)
You'll need to call Virgin on 0345 454 1111 to cancel but even the cancellation section of its site suggests it could offer you a better deal - providers are used to this so if you're feeling a little nervous, don't be. It's asking you to haggle and remember, it wants your custom.
Use charm, chutzpah, cheek... and a smile
Aggression or anger will just put the customer service rep's back up. You're asking for a discount, and they're just as much within their right not to give it as you are to leave. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative.
Use the phrases that pay
You may find that your Virgin customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price, try phrases like:
- I've worked out my budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/mth
- [TalkTalk/Sky/BT] can do it for less...
- I need to think about it...
- I think my husband/wife will go bonkers if I pay that...
- It's still a lot of money...
- What's the very best you can do?
Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you
Some people worry and get nervous to try this in case they're disconnected. Martin's easy 'get out of jail free' card on this is the phrase: "Hold on, I'll call you back on that. I'd like to check with my wife/husband/dog first."
Problems mean discounts
If you've had issues with Virgin in the past, such as slow broadband or long customer call waiting times, politely the customer service rep when you haggle. It's useful ammunition - they should want to try to make it up to you.
Don't say yes to the first offer they give
You should never go with the first offer. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.
Don't fill the silence
They may push you to agree because it's a 'limited-time offer', but don't feel pressured into agreeing to the new price or deal unless you're certain.
As negotiations come to a close, a classic salesman technique is to stay silent. They want you to feel awkward and fill the silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.
Ask if they can throw in extras
If they won't slash the price, then ask them if they can at least include any extras, such as free calls, extra channels or faster fibre broadband.
If you fail - try, try and try again
While unconfirmed, we hear rumours at some companies that different staff members have different quotas of how many deals they can do.
Even if that's not true, it certainly feels like that to many. So you may have called the wrong person at the wrong time. Calling back a few days later and speaking to someone else may pay dividends.
Finally, if Virgin really won't play ball, vote with your feet
If you don't get what you want, you should seriously consider leaving. Remember, new customers normally have the pick of the best TV, fibre broadband and line rental deals and there are other providers out there. Use our Digital TV deals and Cheap Broadband guides to find the best one for you.
And finally, are you still not ready to pick up the phone? Watch Martin's How to Haggle video to get tips from a pro...